It is hard to believe that we are just eight short weeks away from the start of spring training. Even with Josh Hamliton signing Thursday with the Los Angeles Angels, half of ESPN’s Top 50 on their MLB free-agent tracker list have inked contracts for next season. With Zack Greinke counting his millions in Los Angeles, the rest of the market should fall into place soon for starting pitchers. Despite all the words hammered out about Greinke and B.J. Upton’s big deals, there are quite a few deals that have made good value signings that have either helped a team or secured a key piece of the puzzle from leaving. All free-agent signings are gambles. What we think is a bad deal now could be seen as an absolute gem by the time that contract has run its course. And what could be seen now as a no-brainer could just really stink in a few years. So, going through the tea leaves, here are the best 11 free-agent signings of the hot-stove season so far.
11. Mariano Rivera-New York Yankees
Bennett Cohen / Icon SMI / Retna Ltd.
Contract:One year/$10 million (via CBS Sports)
Seriously, there was never a real chance that he was ever going any place other than the New York Yankees. But in locking down one of the top closers in the game today, the Yankees look to have scored a sweetheart deal in signing a guy that will notch between 35 and 45 saves next season. Fans will also get the pleasure—if this indeed is Rivera’s last season, at age 43—in seeing the greatest closer in baseball history go out on his own terms. New York shelled out $15 million for another year of Hiroki Kuroda—a decent deal on its own—and could have easily paid that for Rivera if he pushed.